Dining at Kagaya involves some compromise. One has to overlook the nondescript and faded façade which offers little insight or encouragement. Peer in and the clichéd Japanese interior seems yet another reason to move further along Forest Road in search of more authentic cuisine. But look a little closer at the obvious passion of the Hurstville locals and it makes for a compelling case to think again. It is clear they have a very well kept secret and jagging a table unannounced at this bustling sushi house is as problematical as finding parking nearby.
Service whilst not professional is both enthusiastic and well meaning. Making eye contact is occasionally challenging during the course of a meal but that point could also be levelled at a host of far more loftier culinary temples. Order the obligatory sashimi platter ($10.80) and all will be quickly forgiven when you taste the generous and obviously well sourced fresh salmon, tuna and kingfish. The knife skills displayed are more than adequate without ever being masterful. Serious foodies however should try the texturally delectable grilled salmon head lightly dusted with salt, pepper & cumin ($7.80). Whilst it requires a degree of perseverance, the unctuous flesh of the collar is particularly sublime, so the rewards are plentiful for your endeavour with what could possibly be the most undervalued dish of this quality in Sydney. At lunchtime, the superb complimentary miso made using premium base ingredients will leave you more than happy enough to pay for more of the same at night.
The scampi sashimi ($9.80) is sensational, slightly sweet with an ethereal texture and is yet another high calibre dish that massively over delivers at the price point. The California roll with salmon ($12.80) is neatly presented and distinctive in flavour but suffers in comparison. Look around the room and you will observe plate after plate of perfectly cooked King prawn tempura ($19.80) adorning the tables. The particularly generous serving will easily satisfy two to three and is more than reason enough alone to return again. The deep fried soft shell crab ($19.80) unfortunately texturally does not hit the same high note but I suspect it is maybe more a produce issue on this occasion. Regardless, both these dishes do however show a deftness of touch with the preparation and consistency of the tempura. The overall standard of the dipping sauces are satisfactory, but the standard of soy could be better than the basic Kikkoman that is served.
With no wine or sake list, b.y.o allows the diner to match the key dishes meaningfully, however be warned the standard glassware is varied in both size and quality and seriously in need of a good polish. I absolutely deplore flat screen TV’s in restaurants as a rule, but ultimately the passionate locals do not seem one bit concerned as the honest mid-range experience they seek is over delivered to the plate at prices definitely in their favour, so whom am I to argue as I indulgently share in their obvious pleasure?
175 Forest Road, Hurstville
Mon-Sat 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm, Sun 6pm-10pm
Not Licensed / BYO ($2 corkage applies)